Pumpkins take all summer to grow and are ready for harvest at the beginning of winter. Just in time for carving for Halloween!
If you have plenty of space in your garden but not a lot of time, growing pumpkins is a low-maintenance chore.
Where to Grow
Many people plant pumpkins directly into an old compost heap because pumpkins like plenty of nutrients and moisture. Otherwise, you will need to enrich the soil with organic matter and select a sunny spot.
Types and Varieties
The large, orange winter pumpkins are an obvious choice to grow, but they don’t taste that great. It is worth growing one or two for carving. However, for eating, it is best to stick to winter squashes.
Winter squashes come in all shapes and sizes. Many are incredibly beautiful with their bumps and nobbles. There is also a wonderful diversity of colors, ranging from orange and yellow, to green, multicolored and even blue!
Pests and Diseases
Squashes and pumpkins are generally trouble-free.
Harvesting and Storage
Pumpkin and squash fruits should be left outside until they take on their full color. If the weather is fine, leave them outside. But as soon as frost is forecast, bring them inside.
Leave the skins to harden and the stalks to dry to prolong the storage period (this is known as “curing”).
Pumpkins do not store well. Therefore, it is best to carve them by Halloween or eat by Christmas.
Squashes can last much longer and are generally tastier. They can last right into the new year. Store them in a cold, dry and light place such as a garden shed or greenhouse.
In the Kitchen
Most pumpkins typically have orange or yellow flesh. Once peeled and the seeds removed, the flesh can be roasted with other winter veggies. The sweet and smooth flesh is also fantastic pureed and made into hearty winter soups.
The seeds are edible and can be roasted.
Sow seeds individually in small pots. Place the flat seed on its side and cover with 1/2 inch (1 cm) of potting mix. Keep in a well-lit and warm place (above 18 C).
Pot into larger pots if frosts are still likely. When all chance of frost has passed, plant outside with at least 3 ft. 2 in. (1 m) between plants, or sow seeds directly into the ground.
Keep unruly plants under control by moving their long, winding stems back into their allotted space.
Water if very dry. A couple of really good soaks should do.
Fruit should be set and starting to ripen.
Once fruits start to ripen and reach their full size, start to harvest from now on.